The adventure has begun. Kid goats. Candida Lycett-Green, last week. Twins. One large male. One smallish doeling. Half Toggenburg. Half Nubian. Two more in the past twenty-four hours. These two came about 155 days after being exposed to Cornelius. Buck.
The sheep broke out a day or two ago. Smashed a newly made barnyard and latch and invaded the upper two stories of the barn. Baleage and some hay were stored up there. Candida and her kids were nicely penned in a corner, next to the big doors on the loft level. Until the sheep barged in. They realized quickly enough that there was something enticing to eat on the other side of the pen wall and barreled their way through the very nice set-up that had protected the little family. I broke down what was left of the bales and gate that enclosed the goats, scooped up the little buck and opened the big door. "I want you in the barn now." The sheep went. With dispatch. Candida ducked and hid from the sheep. I gave her the buck. Propped up the gate, shut the door and went to the corner of the pen where I had seen the doeling, safely ensconced. No doeling. Anywhere to be seen. I looked under every table, shelf, feed bag in the loft level of the barn. She was too little to climb the stairs. She is a brown and tan little thing. The same color as everything else on that floor. Nowhere to be found. Candida joined me in the search. Her voice is a little loud to say the least. Shall it be called rather distinctive? The neighbors have had cause to wonder about her, summer evenings, as she protests my leaving her alone after milking. They even have been prompted to ask me, "What in the world is the matter with that goat?" Only not quite in those words. Nubians are known for being extremely vocal. Especially when they have no family members around or old friends, for that matter. And so there was every reason to suppose that the little still unnamed doeling would respond. But she didn't. I went back to the house. Dusk was settling in. Got a flashlight. Came back out. Looked everywhere. Again. On the off chance she got swept away by the mass and rapid exodus of sheep. I went to the ground level of the barn, flashlight in hand. No kid goat. The last and now unlikely place was among the flock in the barn yard. I crawled among their legs, my flashlight lighting up the now dark barn yard. Despair began to enter the edges of my mind. I couldn't leave her alone in the dark but where was she? As I stood up, the flashlight hit the corner of a sidewall beam now made low by the long developing pack. And there, a couple of feet above everyone, in a corner was a silent, huddled hunched over little goat. Found! Goats climb. Sheep stay at ground level. I was looking in the wrong place.
I like each kid goat as it comes. Even if it is hard to choose when they are this young, I often say, "Oh, I'll keep this one. And that one. Or not. But this little one, yet unnamed is a pretty little thing. Tucks nicely under my arm. Takes a bottle readily when I had the occasion to offer her one." And is already a delight.
And then, of course is the story of Cameron Lycett-Green. The kind of story that shows this shepherd that I probably don't have a clue about what I am doing after a mere twenty years on the job. Cameron, a few weeks from being a yearling, has been a very goaty goat since she was born. In other words, sometimes sweet and tame, other times quite evasive to say the least. Until a few days before her dam freshened she was staying in the pen with her. Candida likes company and Cameron was never very friendly with her half sisters. It was a good combination.
One day she jumped out, knocking over the bales of hay stacked as a windbreak around it. I was too busy to put her back in. She, being a goaty goat, jumped down the hay chute and joined the sheep. For awhile. One way or another, she eventually leapt a fence or two, trashed open a door and came into the upper level of the barn. I saw her and went over to her. She proceeded to leap in the air and stand on her hind legs, head cocked . Goat for, I'm mad at you, let's fight. I went back to unwinding baleage, my head lowered as I pulled out the bottom layer. Bam. Cameron hit me. Full force on the side of my head. She's going. I decided immediately. A hundred dollars would take her and her unborn kid. She was bagging nicely. However, she was not showing any of the round barrel, swallowed-a-watermelon look of her half sisters, Ethyl and Lydia Merriman. Nor even a hint of the round barrelness of her mother. Oh, she won't freshen until mid-April if that despite the fullness of her udder.
Yesterday afternoon I went in to milk Lucinda MacDouglas who, I have just learned freshened when I was away with a kid who had strangled in its afterbirth (that's another story best left untold). There, in the manger where Cameron liked to stay, as far from her stall mate, Lucinda the Terrible, as possible, was a small, not tiny as predicted, but definitely small, perfect, wide eyed, new born (by about only a few minutes) doeling. I put her down with her mother, wiped its face and tried to point it in the right direction. She still couldn't stand. Cameron licked her baby's face, cleaned her off beautifully. I put some grain down for Lucinda. Cameron glanced at it. It was clear she was tempted. But immediately she turned her attention to her little baby. The kid was strong enough to stand and, in a brief twenty minutes, began to nurse. The kind of brief that makes you feel it lasts forever. Will she figure it out or not? Will I have to tube feed her to get her started or not. Cameron nuzzled that little creature into place and nursed it as if she'd freshened a dozen times.
Last night I went to check on them. Late. The wind had started to blow in a fury. It was almost as if it was angry gentle April that was here rather than March with its blatant permission to blow. Cameron had somehow taken Lucinda's favorite place from her, under the lamp in a nice protected corner. She had curled herself around her baby and kept nuzzling her face against that of her kid. "What a nice mamma you are", I said. "You'll stay. You'll stay."
Ethyl Merriman freshened with a doeling this morning. Her first. A pure Toggenburg. Deep chocolate brown with cream markings, this little one. There is a customer who wants to buy a pair of doelings. With any luck, her twin Lydia will have a doeling today as well. They will pay for the amazing work being done on the carriage house this week. That lovely lovely building is beginning to function again. Or, perhaps for the first time. Maintenance will be the next problem. However, if I am lucky I can get into a routine. That would be a miracle!
This farmer had a two day holiday this weekend and went to New York . The joy of the city, for me, includes seeing children everywhere. On their way to the park, out with their parents, or their baby-sitters, grandmothers, or friends parents. Children are what I miss seeing here in the country. I've almost never in the past few years seen a child at play out of doors. The why of it mystifies me. I had lunch with my son in Chinatown and walked with him all over the lower part of the city. We had incredible gelato, and then strawberry shortcake and coffee in Veniero's. Joachim bought his favorite chocolate flavored coffee and I some Demerrara sugar cubes for my favorite coffee with cream at an especially fine candy shop called the Sweet Life, on Hester street on the lower East Side . I saw an exhibit I've wanted to see for a long time at the Cooper-Hewitt with a friend. They didn't do a very good job of it. Buttons, trimmings and 19th Century fabric design. But it was so much fun spending time with my friend. She is a painter and, per usual, I saw still another most beautiful paintings in her studio. The art inspires me to earn a living so I can buy one every time I go to New York.
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